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Exploring vulnerability and adaptation to climate change of communities in the forest zone of Cameroon

Abstract

Understanding vulnerability to the impacts of global environmental change and identifying adaptation measures to cope with these impacts require localized investigations that can help find actual and exact answers to the questions about who and what are vulnerable, to what are they vulnerable, how vulnerable are they, what are the causes of their vulnerability, and what responses can lessen their vulnerability. People living in forests are highly dependent on forest goods and services, and are vulnerable to forest changes both socially and economically. In the Congo basin, climate change effects on forest ecosystems are predicted to amplify the existing pressure on food security urging expansion of current agricultural lands at the expense of forest, biodiversity loss and socioeconomic stresses. The paper aimed at exploring vulnerability and adaptation needs to climate change of local communities in the humid forest zone of Cameroon. Field work was conducted in two forest communities in Lekié and in Yokadouma in the Center and Eastern Regions of Cameroon respectively. The assessment was done using a series of approaches including a preparatory phase, fieldwork proper, and validation of the results. Results show that: (a) the adverse effects of climate conditions to which these communities are exposed are already being felt and exerting considerable stress on most of their livelihoods resources; (b) drought, changing seasons, erratic rain patterns, heavy rainfall and strong winds are among the main climate-related disturbances perceived by populations in the project sites; (c) important social, ecological and economic processes over the past decades seemed to have shaped current vulnerability in the sites; (d) Some coping and adaptive strategies used so far are outdated; and specific adaptation needs are identified and suggestions for facilitating their long-term implementations provided.

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Acknowledgment

This research was the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) funded Congo Basin Forest Climate Change Adaptation project of the Center for International Forestry Research. Special thanks go to all the respondents for their time and interest in the research. They really deserve to be co-authors, because all what we are sharing are their knowledge. Special thanks also go to anonymous reviewers who have substantially improved the quality of this paper.

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Correspondence to Mekou Y. Bele.

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Bele, M.Y., Tiani, A.M., Somorin, O.A. et al. Exploring vulnerability and adaptation to climate change of communities in the forest zone of Cameroon. Climatic Change 119, 875–889 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0738-z

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Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Gross Domestic Product
  • Cassava
  • Focus Group Discussion
  • Adaptive Capacity